Write a new plot for this month's book club with easy make-ahead food and fabulous drinks.
Girls Night In: Book Club
Credit: Beau Gustafson; Styling: Mindi Shapiro Levi

Escaping to another world or another time, page by page, is a luxury unlike any other. Being a member of a book club has practically turned in to an American pastime for women all over the country. No matter the genre, getting together to discuss a book deserves a party all it's own. Who knows? A few drinks just might make that conversation a little livelier.

Picking a complete make-ahead menu for the night is a must, especially if you have a few more pages to read before the book club starts. Don't let the food get in the way of the all-important ending. Cook ahead and be ready long before the members arrive.

The Bar
A great glass of wine and a good book have gone together almost as long as there have been words to read. Offering a carafe of wine or two on the bar is a must for any book club meeting. To add another dramatic chapter to the wine selection, make some mixed wine drinks as well.

The Food
Starting the evening with a platter of fruit and cheese is an easy way to have an impressive appetizer that's ready in a flash.

To serve dinner, set up a buffet in the kitchen and let the girls serve themselves. Wrap utensils in napkins for easy pickup to save time in line at the buffet. The faster serving goes, the more time for the star of the night–the book. If eating dinner during the book discussion is a part of the meeting, make room at the table or pull out some trays. Room around the plate for note taking and flipping pages is a must.

The Extras
Make your book club evening even more special by preparing a menu that carries out the theme of your book. Use this list of Book Club Menus for ideas or search MyRecipes.com for specific themes or cuisines.

The Party Plan

One Week Before

  • Make easy chicken pie and freeze.

The Day Before

  • Make salad dressing and roast tomatoes for salad.
  • Make lemon cream tart.
  • Infuse mint and vanilla syrup for spritzers.

The Morning Of

  • Make sweet beer bread.
  • Combine all ingredients except club soda for fruit refreshers.

2 Hours Before

  • Bake easy chicken pie.

As Group Arrives

  • Add cold club soda to spritzers.
  • Stir together fruit refresher.

Right Before Dinner

  • Toss salad.

Rebecca Lang is a well-known cooking instructor, author, and food writer. She teaches Girls' Night In classes around the country and lives in Athens, Georgia.